Chitimba, Malawi: (Day 8) Dec-18-2013

Woke up at 5:40am, spent 20 minutes packing my bags.  I packed using my torch as all power was still off for the night.  Brushed my teeth...also by headlamp.  I felt gross from a nightfall of dancing, sweating, and then sleeping in my own filth.  At dinner, the entire group had been talking about the strong storm we had that night.  They all had said they were woken up and that some of their rooms had water blowing directly in.  Sophie and Noah said that it was the strongest storm they have ever heard and that at one time they thought their cabin was going to collapse and that they were going to die.  I slept through the entire night so I can't comment.

We were on the road by 6:30 and have ~350 km of roads to cover today--about 7 to 8 hours of driving.  We stopped at a market along the way, but were only given 10 minutes to shop.  I could have easily spent an hour there.  I bought one more of the of the things I had gotten before, this time a larger one.  I will have to wrap them up and send them back in a duffel bag as my 2nd piece of checked luggage.

Scenery Through the Rift Valley, Along Chilumba Bay Northern Malawi 

We later stopped at Mzuzu, where the two Costa Rican ladies had to settle the issue with their visas.  We had also stopped at a Shoprite.  I bought a few Coke Lites and a package of oranges for a total of $5 (~2000 kwacha).   On my way back to the truck I was accosted by locals trying to sell me stuff, which has become the norm.  I asked one of them how much 3 bracelets were and he said 1500 kwacha (or about $4).  I told him 1$ USD and he said no.  I walked away, despite his efforts to negotiate, and stepped onto the bus.  From the window he continued to negotiate.  I told him I had 550 kwacha and that's all.  After his numerous efforts to glean more money from me proved fruitless he finally consented.  They also asked for empty bottles.  There is a 25 kwacha deposit they get back for glass bottles but they get nothing for plastic bottles.  They use plastic bottled to hold water they have to pump from wells.   I was happy to give them the empty bottles I had on the bus.  The Fat Fuck...oops, I mean, "FF" was a complete bitch (go figure) when I asked if she had any empties.  She replied, "I already paid my deposit on this".  God forbid this bitch looses out on 25 kwacha (~$0.06 USD) and can't afford to fund her addiction to 7-Up and potato chips...I mean she does go through enough of that just to be classified as a starved pig.  I wish I could just punch her in her snout...
Chitimba Camp, Malawi

OK, DEEP BREATHING......better now, but she's still a FF.

We're back on the road and it 10:30--on our way to Chitimba, Malawi, which is along the northern tip of Lake Malawi.  The lake is ~600 km long.  We arrived at camp just before 2 and it was very hot.  We ate lunch, which was only bread, butter, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Market Outside Chitimba Camp, Malawi
I took a walk into town to a local market with Sonia, Ann Marie, and Cara.  It was very poor.  They were selling secondhand clothing, afro picks, tobacco, peanuts, and various other products.  It was in a field and all the products were on the ground.  They were also selling hair straightener that was premixed and in a large plastic barrel.  Sonia and Cara were saying how non-profit companies send donated clothing to Africa where corrupt organizations then sell the clothing for a profit.  Apparently that is how much of the donated clothing is distributed here in Africa.
Tobacco and Peanuts, Chitimba Camp, Malawi

On our walk we had children clambering towards us and grabbing our hands.  Many had those large bellies those African children on TV have--they get that from malnutrition.  One of the older boys (maybe 14 year old?) had said his father recently died from AIDs.  This is very common here.  AIDS is the largest killer here.  It's sad as many of the children already have AIDs and probably don't even know it.  You can see the symptoms very clearly.  The ratio of children to adults is unbelievably large.  The adults here don't live long lives and the children are largely unsupervised.  There is so much that the Africans can do to improve their lives, but they just don't do it.  Maybe they are just not intelligent enough to learn?  Cara thinks that most of them just don't have the cranial capacity.  I am tending to believe that to be the case.  AIDS does lead to dementia and malnutrition also has grave effects.  Also, malnutrition during pregnancy seems to have a significant impact here as well.  I can go into detail later, but it's VERY EVIDENT that MONEY is NOT the bottleneck for improvement in conditions in Africa.

Cara and I Walk Back to Camp With Local Children, Chitimba, Malawi
Ad for "Pot" Outside Camp, Chitimba, Malawi
On the way back to the camp site Cara and I decided to try to local cuisine and paid a local $5 to cook up some type of fried fish and chips from the casaba plant.  He delivered it to our camp a few hours later, it was ok.  Thankfully Godfrey cooked up a feast.  He made some type of vanilla-fruit pudding, which was also quite good.  It's 8:45 and YES I am still sweating.  I upgraded to a dorm for the night.  I have 4 beds but I am the only one in my room.  It was only $5.  I still don't have electricity, a fan, bathroom, or shower...but I don't have to pitch and then pack up a tent.

Tomorrow we eat breakfast at 5:30 and then have to pack our own lunch--since we have a long day of driving and will not be stopping for lunch.  Our trip is 650 km and will take all day.  Standards in Eastern Africa (e.g. Kenya & Tanzania) are even more basic so we need to lower our expectations.

The beach was beautiful today at the lodge, but it was a bit windy by the time I got back from the market.  I just walked the shore a bit.  I chatted with Beth, Cara, and Sophie a bit about Colleges in Australia and some of their drinking games.  Everyone else has hit the sack so I'm going to go to bed and sweat while maybe watching a movie?

Our Accommodations in Chitimba, Malawi
My dorm, as well as all the other rooms, have metal--maybe tin--roofs.  Throughout the evening I heard large plantains falling from the nearby trees.  This, coupled with the smacking of branches, made for a very musical evening.  Furthermore, there are monkeys that jump from roof to roof that really makes the noises quite interesting in here.

I'm happy that I have 5 windows that open because the breeze is nice, even though if it is still a sauna in here.

Oh, one thing....Every place here in Malawi has ONE type of beer--Carlsberg.  It seems that they have a brewery and/or bottling operation in Malawi.  How Random?

Enjoying a Carlsberg on the Beach, Chitimba, Malawi